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Nation’s oldest gay bookstore to reopen in Philadelphia

Monday, August 25, 2014
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Shown is a historical marker outside of Ed Hermance's Giovanni's Room, the nation's oldest gay bookstore on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Philadelphia. AP

Shown is a historical marker outside of Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, the nation’s oldest gay bookstore.

PHILADELPHIA — The nation’s oldest gay bookstore will reopen next month in Philadelphia after closing three months ago due to financial problems.

Philly AIDS Thrift says it’s taking over the shop called Giovanni’s Room. It had closed in May after 41 years, citing competition from online outlets.

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Philly AIDS Thrift already operates a secondhand store whose proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS organizations. The group now has a two-year lease to operate Giovanni’s Room.

The group says it plans to sell books as well as items like housewares and vintage clothing starting early next month.

Giovanni’s Room has long served as a resource, safe haven and gathering place for the city’s gay community.

It’s named for the 1956 James Baldwin novel about a young man in postwar Paris struggling with his sexual identity.

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